The potentially awkward situation between the Padres and the Nationals’ so-called “player to be named later,” widely reported to be shortstop prospect Trea Turner, isn’t sitting well with the player’s agent.
Jeff Berry and CAA, the agency that represents the 2014 first-round pick, are unhappy that Turner can’t join the Nationals until June because of a league rule that states a player who was drafted can’t officially be traded and join a new team until a year after signing.
The Nationals were part of a three-team, 11-player trade with the Rays and Padres that was officially announced Friday. The Nationals sent Steven Souza Jr. and minor league left-hander Travis Ott to the Rays in exchange for pitching prospect Joe Ross and the player to be named. But the trade was agreed upon on Wednesday night, and many media outlets, including The Post, reported that the player to be named later would be Turner, the 13th overall pick in this June’s draft.
Among the concerns about Turner while he waits in the Padres’ system until June: What if he gets hurt? Will the Padres treat him the same as their own prospects? Why must he remain with an organization that doesn’t want him? Will his development be stunted from the Padres’ spring training until June?
As a result, Berry and CAA are looking into any possible way they can help Turner and fix the situation, including potentially filing a grievance, a person familiar with the situation said. Berry’s unhappiness and possible actions were first reported by FOX Sports on Friday night.
The official announcement by the teams didn’t name the extra player. But Turner’s name emerged in many media outlets, citing unnamed sources. Even MLB Network showed Turner’s name, and Minor League Baseball’s official Twitter account did, too.
General Manager Mike Rizzo admitted Friday afternoon in a conference call that the situation the Nationals were facing was complex and rare in baseball history. He didn’t name Turner and declined to speak more in detail about the “player-to-be-named” process.
“We’re going to take a player from the list of the Padres,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to watch him. There’s a trust factor that’s involved with us and the Padres. It’s a unique situation that hasn’t been done before. I’ve never done it before, and I’ve been doing this thing a long time. We’re going to trust each other and do what’s right by the player.”
That still concerns Berry and CAA. Turner knows that he’s been identified as the “player to be named.” The Padres got everything they needed out of Turner already.
“Regardless of the sham press releases being put out by teams, there is no Player to be Named. There is only the player already named, and that player is Trea Turner,” Berry told FOX Sports. “Trea is one of the top prospects in baseball and on a fast track to the Major Leagues. In this case, the plan to ‘trust us’ is not enough when it comes to a player’s well-being and career. Given the circumstances and the undoubtedly negative impact on Trea Turner, for the teams involved and Major League Baseball to endorse and approve this trade is not only unethical but also goes against the very spirit of the Minor League Uniform Player Contract that players sign when they first enter professional baseball.
“That contract requires a player to ‘serve the club diligently and faithfully.’ Shouldn’t the clubs and the controlling parties at Major League Baseball be held to the same standard?”
Berry declined to comment further to The Post late Friday night. A Nationals spokeswoman also declined to comment. Requests for comment late Friday from spokesmen from the players’ union and the Padres weren’t immediately returned.
Players that aren’t eligible to be traded at the time deals are made have routinely been included as a “player to be named” in trades. But the length of Turner’s potential wait and the fact that his name became public are the concerns here. The union, agents and league haven’t sought to change the collective bargaining agreement, but Turner’s case could spark interest in doing so.
Some executives and a former farm director acknowledged the potential awkwardness for the player and how the situation should be handled with care. One executive even suggested that the rule be changed.
It is extremely rare, but players have been loaned to a team before a trade became official. The Braves and Mets did that for three months in 1997, according to Baseball America. A loan would likely require league approval.